Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938


A round-up of the latest science and news from Australasia.

Alcohol Sponsorship Increases Binge Drinking by Athletes

Alcohol sponsorship and hazardous drinking in athletes are linked, according to a study led by Monash University and the University of Manchester. Published in Addiction, the survey of more than 2000 English sportspeople is the first to examine alcohol sponsorship of athletes in the UK, and comes at a time when there are calls for greater restriction or bans on alcohol sponsorship and advertising in sport.

Shark Bite-Off Rates Revealed at Ningaloo Reef

Researchers at The University of Western Australia have quantified the number of shark bite-offs of recreationally caught fish in the Ningaloo region.

Published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and funded by the Gorgon Barrow Island Net Conservation Benefits Fund and the Jock Clough Marine Foundation, the study provides the first quantification of shark bite-offs in a recreational fishery.

Costs of Paris Agreement outweighed by health savings

Globally, the costs of implementing the Paris Climate Agreement between 2020-2050 could be outweighed by health savings due to reduced air pollution-related disease and death, according to estimates from a modelling study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal.

Old human cells rejuvenated

A new way to rejuvenate old cells in the laboratory, making them not only look younger, but start to behave more like young cells, has been discovered by researchers at the Universities of Exeter and Brighton.

A team led Professor Lorna Harries, Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Exeter, has discovered a new way to rejuvenate inactive senescent cells. Within hours of treatment the older cells started to divide, and had longer telomeres - the 'caps' on the chromosomes which shorten as we age.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Lung

By Stephen Luntz

Depression and chronic lung disease are linked, according to a review of research in the area.

“Some studies have shown depression is associated with a poorer prognosis in lung disease, while others have not so we undertook a review of the published data,” says Dr Evan Atlantis of the University of Western Sydney’s Family and Community Health Research Group.

Rates of clinical depression were four times as high in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than the general public, and those with both had an 83% increase in early death.


By Stephen Luntz

Blackcurrants improve alertness, chocolate makes you calm, climate change shrinks waves, and more.

Blackcurrants Improve Alertness

Blackcurrant extract enriched in anthocyanins improves alertness and reduces mental fatigue, according to a double-blind trial by New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research.

Participants drank either the extract or a placebo and then completed a tiring computerised assessment. Those on the extract worked more accurately, and reported feeling more alert and less mentally fatigued afterwards.

Hybrid Swarm in Global Mega-Pest

CSIRO scientists have confirmed the hybridisation of two of the world's major pest species, into a new and improved mega-pest.

One of the pests, the cotton bollworm, is widespread in Africa, Asia and Europe and causes damage to over 100 crops, including corn, cotton, tomato and soybean.

The damage and controlling the pest costs billions of dollars a year.

It is extremely mobile and has developed resistance to all pesticides used against it.

The other pest, the corn earworm, is a native of the Americas and has comparatively limited resistance and host range.

Loch Ness Waters Sampled for Monster's DNA

The story of the Loch Ness monster is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. We have waited more than a thousand years for an answer on its existence. Now, it is only months away.

A global team of scientists, led by Professor Neil Gemmell of the University of Otago, New Zealand, is set to investigate the murky waters of Loch Ness in June 2018.

The team will use environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling of the waters to identify tiny DNA remnants left behind by life in the loch.

Moss polysaccharide discovery likened to beta glucen

By Andrew Spence

A polysaccharide discovered in moss is showing the potential to be exploited for health, industrial and medical uses.

An international team of scientists, led by Professor Rachel Burton from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and Professor Alison Roberts, University of Rhode Island, was looking into the evolutionary history of beta glucan when they made the discovery.

Stem cells restore bones damaged by osteoporosis

A study recently published in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine points the way to a new, potentially restorative treatment for age-related or type II osteoporosis. When a single dose of a certain type of stem cell, called mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), was injected into mice with the disease, long-term bone engraftment and quality bone growth resulted. As an added benefit, the cells protected existing bone from damage.